There's an old story about a farmer who was an atheist and he was a proud atheist and he would flaunt his atheism and in one particularly good harvest season he wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper. The letter went something like this: I plowed my fields on Sunday. I planted on Sunday. I cultivated my crops on Sunday and I hauled in my crops on Sunday but I never went to church on Sunday. And yet I have brought in more bushels per acre than any God-fearing Christian farmer in this area, even those who never miss a single Sunday. A very boastful, proud letter. The editor put it in the newspaper but then underneath he wrote his own comment that said: God doesn't always settle His accounts in October. In the nineteenth chapter of the book of Genesis, God is going to settle His accounts with the city of Sodom. Sodom and Gomorrah. A city that has become a by-word. By the very speaking of the name Sodom, it has come to mean a highly wicked group of people. The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger. Aren't we happy for that? God has a long fuse. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But we have also seen that, though God is merciful and kind and loving, there reaches a point where God in justice, in righteousness, must act in judgment. And He does so here in the nineteenth chapter.
In chapter eighteen, I take you back to verse twenty-five because part of the story is Abraham has a conversation with God when God tells Abraham that He's about to judge the city of Sodom. Because Abraham's nephew Lot is living in Sodom at the time, Abraham, in verse twenty-five of chapter eighteen, says to God, "Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Now that's a great question. Does God ever do anything that's not right? And by the way, that is the very core of the idea of righteousness, is to be right. Rightness. And the answer is no. Everything God does is always right. Abraham is saying, how can You judge the righteous with the wicked? So he starts with fifty people, if You find fifty people will You spare the city? God says, I'll spare it. How about forty-five, forty, thirty-five, thirty? He goes all the way down to ten. Because he's making the point that God should not mingle His judgment of the wicked while there are righteous people that are living in that city. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" And the answer is absolutely. God always does right and in chapter nineteen, we see God doing what is right and that is to judge Sodom because of the sins that have reached that limit. So God, the Judge of all the earth, will do right.
Years ago whenever there was, in the Scripture, the theme of the judgment of God I felt uncomfortable. I really didn't like to teach on God's judgment. And that's because I saw what it did as people would listen. It makes people feel uncomfortable as they hear about God's judgment. I have long since changed my mind on that and I see the judgment of God as not only right but absolutely essential. Now some people will say, well, you know God's judgment raises a whole set of problems. I think just the opposite. I think God's judgment settles a whole lot of problems. How do you feel when you read the newspapers or turn on television and hear the news of child molestation or child rape or murder or abduction? Does your blood ever boil? Do you ever get angry at that kind of stuff; that kind of sin against somebody who is innocent? Don't you ever wish that something would be done, some act of righteousness, some form of judgment? Think of God, who sees every news headline in every newspaper of every city every single day. For God to never ultimately judge people for sin would only mean that God is not righteous, that God is amoral. He is totally disregarding any morality at all. There has to be justice and there has to be ultimate justice. And since God is the Creator and since God set the rules of what is right and what is wrong and gave us laws of what is right and what is wrong and gave us even permission to judge among ourselves in a society what is right and what is wrong, God ultimately reserves the right to judge any culture at any time and He does so here.
I did a word search with some of the common words that we associate with the attributes and the activity of God. For example, the word love when associated with God, is used in the Bible 360 times. The word grace is found 148 times. The word mercy, 282 times. The word peace, 397 times. Now all of those are attributes and activities of a wonderful God. But I also looked up the word Judge when it comes to the activity and attributes of God: 188 times. Judgment, 190 times. Judgments, that is in the plural, 122 times. So you have in Scripture as a dominant theme over 500 times the idea of God's judgment. If you're uncomfortable with it now, you got a lot of Bible to go. And you're going to see it over and over and over again. In fact, did you know that Jesus our wonderful Lord Himself uses God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah as an illustration of what God will do again in the end times. I'm going to read it to you, if wish you wish it's found in Luke 17:22. He said to His disciples, 'The days will come when you desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man and you will not see it. And they will say to you, look here or look there. Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven and shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. And it was in the days of Noah so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage until the day that Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.'
You see, in Sodom one day it was business as usual. Shopkeepers opened up their shops. The Sodom Starbucks was packed full of people giving out lavaccinos and double espressos and the McDonald's over in Gomorrah--same thing. But the next day? Totally and completely destroyed. Let's read that story. Verse one chapter nineteen of Genesis. "Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot [notice this, where he was] was sitting in the gate of Sodom." The gate of the city isn't like a gate that opens on hinges. It's a room; a stone room built into the wall. Or in this particular era it would have been like adobe clay brick. But it was a room that had benches and those who were judges and those who occupied a prominent position of authority or adjudication stayed in the gate. So now we see Lot, not only living in Sodom and we'll trace those steps of how he got there in a minute, we see him as one of the leaders sitting in the gate of Sodom. One of the prominent leaders of the city. He's not only living there, he's like a bigwig there. He's an important dude there. And the angels come.
"When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground." That was the common Oriental Persian-like hospitality of bowing toward the ground we mentioned last week. "And he said, "Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." And they said, "No, but we will spend the night in the open square." Something we touched on last week and you'll see it again clearer than ever here. Lot is a picture, and we see the picture carried off into the New Testament, is a picture of a worldly, half-hearted believer. A carnal believer. One who has knowledge of God but he denies the power thereof. He doesn't have a close relationship with God, a fear of the Lord like his uncle Abraham did. He's sort of caught in between. He would be like the person who says or wants to say, I'm a Christian, I believe in God, these things are important to me, but you never really see it in his day-to-day life. In the late 1800s there was an interesting political group, the Mugwumps. The Mugwumps were a New York state group of Republicans who voted for, he became President Madison at the time, voted for Madison who was a Democrat because they saw political and financial corruption in the Republican party with James Blain as their candidate. They just decided, let's swing the entire state toward Madison and they became known as the Mugwumps. They're fence-sitters. They say they're one thing but they act a very different way come election time. And so Lot was like a Mugwump. His mug was on one side of the fence, his wump was on the other, you never knew where he stood spiritually, teetering back and forth. But we see him sitting at the gate. Now I told you that we wanted to trace the steps, just to bring us up to speed and get the whole context.
His story begins back in chapter thirteen. There are a few verses that go together. So just look at chapter thirteen of Genesis. He's still with Abraham at the time. Verse ten says "Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar." Now he had just gotten back from Egypt and what he saw reminded him of Egypt. So the first step downward toward Sodom is he looked with his eyes, he focused, he looked longingly at Sodom. Keep in mind, he'd lived in tents all of his life. Or in the last several years migrating with Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans up to Haran and down into the Promised Land. He's lived a rural lifestyle. The idea of the city life with all of its accoutrements attracted him. So he looked longingly. That's his first step.
Second step, verse eleven: "Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated [that is, he and Abraham] from each other." So the second step is not only he looked at it but because he had focused on it so long with his eyes, he chose that as the place for his future. Third step is in verse twelve: "Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom." So now he's moving closer. What he sees and now where he's moved attracts his attention and he just gets another step closer. Chapter fourteen verse twelve, this is that battle of the kings we discovered a few weeks ago. Those kings, "They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed." So now he's moved into Sodom. He looked at it; he moved close to it, he moved closer to it, now he's living in it. Now in chapter nineteen verse one, he's in the leadership position sitting in the gate, wielding his influence.
In verse two, remember I said that I'd tell you every time the first mention of something comes up? In verse two we have the first mention of the word house in the Bible. And I want you to notice it. "And he said, "Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant's house and spend the night." So it's interesting. Lot who used to live in a tent now lives in a house. He's not traveling, sojourning, anymore. He's not a pilgrim anymore. He settled down. It's important because we, in the past studies, contrasted Abraham versus Lot. Abraham still lived in a tent; Lot lives in a house. Abraham is a pilgrim; Lot is a citizen of Sodom. You say why is that a big deal? It's a big deal when you get to the book of Hebrews chapter eleven and down around verse nine, ten, and eleven of that chapter, it discusses Abraham. It says "Abraham by faith lived [or dwelt] in the land of promise as if he dwelt in a foreign country dwelling in tents. For he looked and waited for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God." He becomes the picture of somebody on earth who realizes, I'm passing through, and I'm not going to get my roots down too deeply here. Whereas Lot settled in the city. Now does that mean that Christians can't live in cities and own homes? That's not the point. The point is one of comparison. One who's heavenly-minded and one who in name or word only is heavenly-minded but really is focused upon earthly things and earthly status and earthly prominence.
He tells these two angels disguised as visitors, human beings, to spend the night at his house. They go, no, no, no, we'll just stay out here in the open square. Now watch what happens. "But he insisted strongly." Why? Because he knows his town pretty good by now. "So they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate." Boy when I read those verses it might sound insignificant but I get hungry. Because I know what unleavened bread in the Middle East tastes like. It's pita bread but when they make it fresh on a stone or put it in those Persian or Iraqi ovens that unleavened bread just comes off and it's so good. Ok, enough. He gave them unleavened bread and they ate. "Now before they lay down, the men of the city of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally." Now in the New King James, if you are reading like I am, it has in italics the word carnally. Does your Bible have that? And it's in italics. The word carnally is in italics; it's implied by context and I'll tell you why in a minute. But it simply is that we may know them. The translators put carnally and that is a correct move. Some Bible translators like the New Living Translation make it even clearer: "Let us take these men that we might have sex with them." That's what the word 'to know' implies.
For thousands of years, and I say that without stretching it all, for thousands of years people have recognized that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. They understood that. It was never a dispute of what the Bible says about it. You can say, I disagree with the Bible and the Bible's wrong. That's your privilege. But there was never a dispute about what the Bible said about homosexuality being a sin. The Old Testament laws, the Levitical laws under the Laws of Moses, get really explicit about what to do in case there's an offense in that regard. And the New Testament holds up this sin, both in Romans, Jude, Peter and other books as being sort of the threshold that marks the ultimate corruption of a culture. And here is a case where people again for thousands of years have recognized that this is the posturing in the city of Sodom for homosexual rape. We want to come in to these men and we want to force ourselves on them and know them sexually, intimately, carnally. And Lot's going to prohibit that from happening--in a weird way.
Here's the problem with this belief. You can't be a practicing homosexual and hold to that belief. You can't hold to the belief that it's wrong, that it's a sin, you can't do that. It's mutually incompatible. Especially if you consider yourself, and I'm going to give you a new term, maybe it's not new to some of you, to others it is, if you consider yourself a homosexual Christian. That's a term that has come up in the last several years with the upsurge of the church, the Metropolitan Community Church under Troy Perry, twenty years ago. Where people say, I am a Christian but I'm a practicing homosexual. So you have to do something with that thousands of years interpretation that the Bible condemns this as a sin. So what do you do? Here's what you do. You reinterpret the biblical documents to mean something other than what they plainly mean. The real first attempt at this was back in 1955 when an English gentleman by the name of D. Sherwin Bailey wrote a book called Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. And what he said when he came to Genesis nineteen is that the sin of Sodom was not a proposed homosexual rape at all but it was the lack of hospitality shown these two men who came to visit. Because hospitality was such a huge thing in that culture and for them to barge in and not show hospitality, that was their sin. That's why it was judged. That's why the city fell. The same author will acknowledge that when you get to the New Testament there are some pretty blatant texts like Jude that takes and says about Sodom and Gomorrah that the people were involved in immorality, sexual immorality, and they loved strange flesh. And so what this guy does is say, yes the New Testament condemns homosexuality but the interpretations of that came between the Old and the New Testament in the intertestamental periods and so they don't hold the same validity. So the big question is what does he do with all of those texts that blatantly speak out against homosexuality in both the Old and the New Testament? And this is what he says; the problem in the Bible is not homosexuality but homosexual promiscuity. That is, you can have a partner and a lifelong partner but if you sleep around that's the sin that God condemns.
Following on the heels of that, I mentioned Troy Perry who used to be a Pentecostal preacher but he came out of the closet, said he was a homosexual, and started the Metropolitan Community Church. He lives with his partner in California to this day. He's now an older gentleman, I believe he's still around, and basically he says this: homosexuality is a gift from God therefore God condones and blesses what I am doing. And calls himself a Christian homosexual. And I've read how they wrangle the text of Romans and Jude and Genesis. However, I simply want to say this. A plain simple straightforward reading of the text can only lead to one conclusion and it's over and over and over again. And that is homosexuality is sinful. It is wrong. It is unbiblical. Now there are a lot of other sins that are sinful and wrong and unbiblical so all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God. And who am I to speak because God saved me from my sin and redeemed me by His blood and God is able to do that with anyone, with any background. He can do it. That's the business He's in. He's in the redemption restoration business.
But a straightforward, simple reading of biblical text would lead you to the simple straightforward truth that is presented here, interpreted by Paul in Romans, mentioned by Jesus in the New Testament, and also in the book of Jude later on in the New Testament. You'll notice again in verse five, they say, "that we may know them carnally". Those of the Metropolitan Community Church, Troy Perry and others, what they like to refer to themselves as homosexual theologians, say that yes the Word in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word can sometimes be translated as knowing a person intimately, sexually. In fact they say, fifteen times it is used that way in the Old Testament. However, they say, over 900 other times that same word simply means to know somebody mentally. Now you might say, they've got a point. No they don't have a point. The interpretation as to which way it is to be interpreted comes by context. What is the context? And the contextual argument is the strongest argument for what any word means. You could take the word light. What does light mean? It means the opposite of darkness or it means something that's not heavy. How do you determine what it means? By other words that are surrounding it in the sentence. The context will tell you exactly what it means.
The translator is saying knowing them carnally or we want to have sex with them are doing it justice in translating the text. Because though it's only used fifteen times it wouldn't matter if it was only used one time. It's used in that manner here. How do you know that? By context and read on--you'll see. "So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof." Before we get to the obvious, apparent, crazy thing that he did, notice in verse eight, his daughters have not known a man. It's used in the same way. You think it means they never in their whole life ever met a man? Ever mentally had a conversation or got to know any human being of the male gender? That's stupid. That's ridiculous. It obviously means know them in a sexual, intimate manner. And since he is suggesting that they take them, who have never been sexually with a man, known a man, that you can do whatever you want to them but don't know these guests. It's all part of the same context. It's unmistakable. It's straightforward, simple reading.
"And they said, "Stand back!" Then they said, "This one came to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge." Back to those verses. Lot, you say, is absolutely out of his mind. Now I'm not going to speak on his behalf because what he suggests is wrong. Hospitality in the ancient times was so sacred that when you invited a guest into your house you were sworn to his protection even if it means your death. That's how sincerely and totally they took the responsibility of hospitality. Now having said that it does not clear him at all. It simply shows that he has lost his moral compass. He's been living in Sodom, he's now a leader in Sodom, and it has rubbed off on him. And what a point that is to make. It's very difficult to live in a culture that has its values that are against biblical values and not have that culture rub off on you, have that mentality, those values, and rub off on you. It's very difficult to maintain the right kind of balance. We face that similarly in our position. We're bombarded with messages on the radio, on television, on billboards so much that we become numb to it. So we think, no problem, let's see that movie, the f-word's only mentioned five or six times. People say it all the time. Well there are only four sex scenes in it, that happens every day. We start becoming numb to it and accommodating to it and pretty soon we can get to a thing and think, whatever. This has rubbed off on him. And to suggest what he suggests is absolutely deplorable, that they take his daughters.
Something else, notice in verse seven what he calls the men of Sodom: "my brethren". Well that's telling. He says they come under the shadow of my roof. Can I just say something else? Ancient cultures disregarded women as being like chattel. Maybe a step up from a slave and there are still many cultures today, including Islam, that see a woman in a degraded position as something you own and you command. Women? You ought to thank God for Jesus Christ who elevated the woman to the correct status not as a position of ownership by the man but as the equal. As it says in Ephesians and it says "there are neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ". Elevated the woman not kept her subservient or dominated like some of these other cultures. Verse nine they accuse him of acting like a judge. How many times have you, whenever you bring up Jesus or you say, that's not right, just saying sometimes that's not right, people go, who are you to judge? Right? We get that all the time. What about judging? Jesus said, "Judge not lest you be judged," but that means a censorious kind of a judgment that would relegate a person eternally to hell. Jesus also said, 'Flip the coin around. Judge ye a righteous judgment.' Discern. Make determinations of what is right and what is wrong. That's part of sensible living. But they say he keeps acting like a judge.
"Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Couldn't imagine what that could be. "So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot [the men being these two angels] into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness." Cool. "Both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door." Remember years ago that television show Touched by an Angel? You could call this Punched by an Angel. You don't want to mess with an angel. By the way, angels are mentioned in 34 books of the Bible. 34 different books, 17 books of the Old Testament, 17 of the New Testament, mention angels. About 103 times in the Old Testament, about 165 times in the New Testament angels are mentioned. Billy Graham used to call them God's secret agents. Great name for them. The book of Hebrews describes them as ministering spirits, angels are ministering spirits, Hebrews chapter one tells us, sent by God to minister to us who will inherit salvation. You have angels that protect you; you have angels that watch over you, the Bible teaches that. I am so glad for that.
Now I wonder what some of them think when I get on my Harley-Davidson or I get on my skateboard. They think, man, here he goes again, double-up, and get the guys over here, this crazy old man's going out on that thing. Angels are invisible because angels are non-corporeal. They don't have a body. Because they are invisible, non-corporeal, they don't have a body, they don't have the restrictions or the limitations that we as human beings do. However, from time to time God sees fit to, let's say, clothe them with a form so that people can interact with them. So they appear to be like human beings. To suit His own purpose. And the closest example and it might be lame to some of you but I'm going to share it anyway. Do you remember Star Trek? Ok. Follow me so far--Star Trek. Think about Star Trek episodes. And you remember when you're in a starship and traveling around the universe and you're star-hopping and there's a long journey, you got to do something. And so for entertainment aboard some of the federation's starships, they had a thing called the Holodeck. Remember the Holodeck? Nobody? Two of you do? God bless you. I see that hand, I see that hand. Ok. So the Holodeck created 3-D holograms that seemed like real life. You could interact with them, you could walk through him. If you were from earth you could design the Alps and take a trek through the Alps in the Holodeck. If you were a Klingon you could recreate an ancient battle and test your fighting skills. It was a computer program but it seemed so real. So think of angels appearing with the physical features of a human sort of like that. God enacts the program so that human beings can see and interact for God's own purpose.
So we see that in the Bible, don't we? In the Garden of Eden there were two angels that stood guard with a flaming sword. Adam and Eve could see them; they could interact with them. They were visible. Non-corporeal, invisible, but for a time, like the Holodeck, to interact with man they're provided with some sort of morphological structure. In Genesis eighteen, they were dinner guests. The Lord Himself and these two angels. They ate a meal with Abraham and Sarah. Now what do you feed an angel? Angel food cake. That's exactly right. Very good. Now here we see them in Sodom and they're divine bouncers here. A little insight on angelic power: in 2 Kings 18, Senacherib the Assyrian has gathered his troops against Israel and are staging an attack on Jerusalem. King Hezekiah of Judah is in the city and he sees and he hears what they're threatening and he prays to the Lord, please save us from this enemy, and he tears his robe and he prays and says, we trust the Lord not our own strength. So the Lord answers his prayer and the next day, one angel, an angel of the Lord, goes through the camp of the Assyrians and kills 185,000 Assyrians. That's one angel. Now here are two angels in Sodom. Massive power. Can totally wipe out the city. That puts a whole new spin on what Jesus said to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said, 'Peter put your sword away. Don't you know I can call for twelve legions of angels?' A legion is between 3,000-6,000 Roman soldiers. So don't you know, Peter, that I can call like this for between 36,000-72,000 angels? Well if one angel can down 185,000 Assyrians, can you imagine what 72,000 could do? Powerful.
In the tribulation period, God will dispatch His judgment two angels after the seven seals are opened up, seven angels blow trumpets that issue forth judgments. Seven more angels pour out bowls of judgment upon the earth, vials, very, very, very, powerful judgments. We're in verse twelve: "Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city--take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it. So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters [evidently the daughters who had not known a man, these are different ones obviously], and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!" Watch this. "But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking." Now why would they take what Lot said as a joke? Probably because they had been around Lot, they'd seen his lifestyle. He wasn't like Mr. Jesus God Guy and suddenly he's talking about God's judgment and the angels of God and they're going, what's up with you, buddy? Seemed like a joke to them. "When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city." And while he lingered." Who would linger in the face of that? Lot. "The men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city." It's like, you know, get out of Dodge, dude. So he has to force him out of the city. "So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."
Now watch this. "Then Lot said to them, "Please, no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight [I guess he's assuming that], and you have increased your mercy which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die. See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live." And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city [that's the city that he wanted to go to] for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar [little]. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar." It's interesting that Lot thought, no, I can't go to the mountains. There were plenty of caves in the area, still are. I've got to be in a city. Maybe he had become so accustomed to city life; it had been a long time since he'd been out in the tent with Abraham. He didn't want to go up and rough it in the mountains. Of course, he didn't have any idea of what kind of judgment was coming. But he went over to Zoar. But did you see that in verse twenty-two? "Hurry and escape. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens."
Did you notice that God made a difference between Lot and the people of Sodom? The New Testament calls Lot righteous. In a comparative way, he was better than the people who lived in Sodom. He was a believer, a carnal believer, but the angel said, I can't do anything until you're out of there and you're in a safe place. So here's the principle: when God judges, He makes a difference between the ungodly and the godly. That's a principle. It's a principle found throughout the Bible. When it came to the flood, did God just indiscriminately destroy the world or did He save a group of eight people on an ark? That's what He did. In fact, get the symbolism, He lifted them off the earth and preserved them and then God judged the earth with the flood. In the book of Joshua chapter ten, hailstones come from heaven on the Amorites and destroy the enemies of God. God makes a difference. In Ezekiel chapter nine, same principle. An Angel of the Lord with a writer's inkhorn is told to go throughout the city of Jerusalem and place a mark on the foreheads of the people who cry and sigh because of the sins and the wickedness of Jerusalem. God says, I'm about to destroy this city but I want to save those people who care and are crying out and praying for this city. In Revelation chapter seven a mark is put on the foreheads of 144,000 Jewish believers who are kept safe and huddled during the tribulation upon the earth. And I submit to you that the rapture of the church following the character of God throughout the Bible will be of the same ilk. That the reason we hold to a pre-tribulation rapture is because it is God's character to not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Now people will say, well you know Jesus said in the world you will have tribulation. Exactly my point. And there's a huge difference between the tribulation that comes from the world, from the devil as its source, and the great tribulation that will come from the hand of God.
Let me read to you out of 2 Peter 2. Listen to this: "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned but cast them down to hell and delivered them to chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment and did not spare the ancient world but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly, and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemning them to destruction making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly, and delivered righteous Lot who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked, for that righteous man dwelling among them tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds." Now listen to this. Here it is: "Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for that great Day of Judgment." When God judges, He makes a difference. And Jesus talked about the great tribulation as being the worst time in human history. And I submit to you that just as God always made a difference in judgment, He will do it again in that period of time.
Verse twenty-five: "So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt." The idea of looking back as a longing, wistful hankering. J. Vernon McGee in his commentary says that "Mrs. Lot was part of the country club, the sewing club, and the Shakespeare club." I don't know where he got that from but if you've ever heard him it's just classic McGee. She missed it; she longed for it. Her roots were in Sodom. "And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where had stood before the Lord. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt." So He did it for Abraham's sake. That's why the angel was insistent.
Abraham back in chapter eighteen, remember the conversation, would you spare for fifty, forty, etcetera? When Abraham went to bed that night he probably thought, I can rest secure the city will not be destroyed because I had that conversation with the Lord--got Him down to ten. If He finds ten people, surely there will be ten people in the city. He looks out and sees smoke rising the next morning and he thinks, uh-oh. I was wrong. I slept easy for the wrong reason. God destroyed it and what he finds out is God delivered those who, comparatively, were more righteous, that is Lot and his family, took them out of the city and He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. There's a researcher, archaeological researcher and scholar, named Dr. Melvin Kyle who says because of what we find in that area of Israel, in that area of the plain and the Dead Sea region, we find salt deposits, we find bitumen, which is a liquid, viscous liquid, hydrocarbons like tar, the kind of stuff you pour on the roads. Because we find deposits of that everywhere he says that he believes that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God did this, that there was a break in the earth's strata. There was a subterranean pool of oily material underneath that whole surface of the plain and that something ignited it, maybe lightning, God could have used lightning, fire from heaven the Bible often refers to lightning, could have struck it, exploded it, and he said it is possible that the entire floor of the valley was lifted up off of the earth. That the earth's strata separated, the upper strata separated, sending this material sky high and then raining down and Mrs. Lot could have been the victim of salt deposits, sulfurs, that encrusted and encased her and she was just instantly killed by it. I don't know, I wasn't there. I'm just taking what it says here.
"Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains." You go, now wait a minute! What do you mean he left Zoar and dwelt in the mountains? He was begging not to go the mountains and he says can I go to that little city? Ok, go. Now he says, I'm leaving. I'm going to go the mountains. Crazy. "And his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar." If I had time I'd get into that but I don't have time. "And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave. Now the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father." So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose." He was sauced--he was drunk. "It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, "Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father."
Lot was able to take his daughters out of Sodom, but not take Sodom out of his daughters. That moral compass is awry in their own lives. Some people in reading this have said it was a desperate situation for them and it was the custom to prolong seed. Oh really? If it was so customary and they saw nothing wrong with it, why'd they get him drunk? They knew they had to get this guy in an altered state of consciousness to get him to do this. He didn't even know it happened. "Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father." He got them pregnant. "The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day."
So this incestuous relationship, it's so sad. The Bible is so honest about those that it writes about. Even its heroes, it tells us the good and the bad. This is really, really bad. Now the Moabites and the Ammonites, three important truths. Number one, they became arch enemies of Israel. So this will hurt the lineage of Abraham for generations to come. Number two, one of the gods they worshiped was Molech, keep that in mind. You'll read about that in the Old Testament. Number three, out of this same region came probably the greatest carnal seduction in Israel's history in Numbers 25 when Balaam has the people go down into the camp of Israel and seduce them to commit sexual immorality en masse so that God judges that country.
Two lessons I leave you with tonight. Two stark lessons out of this chapter. Number one, our decisions are always important. Our choices, the choices that we make, need to be weighed heavily because we might live with the ramifications for a long time. Choices like where I'm going to live, what kind of a culture and an environment I will raise my children in. These kinds of choices Lot made the wrong ones and he lived for generations to see the negative ramifications. Now I know the New Testament calls him a righteous man and I'm willing to live with that. It's biblical. But you know it's possible to have a saved soul and a lost life? I know people that have a ticket to heaven; they trust in Christ. But their life doesn't really amount to much. They go through their life, they have a ticket to heaven, they have a saved soul, but their life, their influence, is lost. And that was Lot. Abraham had a saved soul and a saved life; Lot had a saved soul and a lost life. So number one, our choices are always important. Our decisions are always important.
Lesson number two: God's actions are always right. Chapter eighteen verse twenty-five, "Shall not the Judge of the earth do right?" You betcha. He will always do right. And even when God judges, He is acting rightly--righteously. Now I mentioned and we saw at the beginning that Jesus used the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah as something typical of the future judgment. Don't have time to turn to it, but in 2 Peter the Bible talks about the earth being dissolved and melting with fervent heat. So what happened in Sodom is going to happen to the entire earth. This earth is going to be destroyed at some point in the future--totally destroyed by fire. God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The judgment is coming. You don't have to go through it. It all depends on where you're standing. In the days when people were settling from the east and moving across the plains and toward the west and there were the homestead laws where people could carve out a piece of land and just settle there, one group in a wagon train was coming across the plains and suddenly they looked up from their camp and they saw an entire wall of fire coming toward them. Evidently, lightning had struck in the mountains, ignited the plains and it was as if the world of fire was coming to destroy them. One of the pioneers was a quick thinker and he quickly took a match and lit and burned all of the grass in a large area around the camp. And then he told everybody to get inside that circle. And as the fire got closer and closer and closer, one of the little girls in the camp cried out, 'We're all going to be burned up!' And the man said, 'Sweetheart. You don't have to worry. We're not going to be burned up; we're standing where the fire already was. It can't come here any longer. There's nothing to burn up around here.' And they were saved, of course. If you're in Christ, you're standing where the fire already was. If you're in Christ, you're standing where the judgment already was. If you're standing outside of Christ, you're standing in the direct line of where the judgment is coming. Just read the book of Revelation--it's all laid out.